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Bassett continues podium winning momentum

The BARC SE Cannons Tin Tops rolled in to Brands Hatch for the first double-header races of the season on 26th March which saw Peugeot 205 GTi driver Chris Bassett achieve a double podium.

Over the winter, we began to make some changes to the Peugeot to try and eek a bit more time out of the car while making a few adjustments to the set-up and removing some weight only for the rule makers to change the weights of the different car classes. This meant we had to add around 25kgs of weight to make the minimum weight limit. We also planned a pretty extensive test series, which unfortunately didn’t materialise.

chris bassett BARC SE cannons tin tops peugeot 205 gti

The racing weekend started in chaos. We turned up at Brands Hatch to get the car scrutineered (where officials check the car before you can race), only to discover that the battery was completely flat. We ‘jumped’ the car to make scrutineering and then straight out for qualifying. When the scruiteeners checked the ‘kill switch’ (where race marshalls can turn the engine off in the event of a crash) we were left in the paddock as the other cars went out on track. Following some frantic work by Tom Motorsport we made it out on track, but without being able to set the car up or even check tyre pressures!

We managed just a few laps in qualifying, which was wet, but was surprised to see us in third position come the end of the session – not a bad effort when you consider than one of the tyres had just 15psi in it!

Race one:

We managed to change the battery (with the kind loan of a spare one from Daniel Adams who races a Proton Satria and was unable to race following gearbox issues) and set about trying to achieve our first podium of 2016. Going into the first corner (Paddock Hill Bend) we were up to second and in hot pursuit of Rod Birley’s pace-setting Honda Integra. Going into Surtees we made our move only for the brake lights to suddenly appear on the back of the Honda, which in turn made me brake mid-corner and un-settle the Peugeot on the slippery track, which was beginning to dry out, and spin across the grass – not the type of advertising our new sponsor Etesia UK (a lawn mower manufacturer) was hoping for!

After re-joining the race back in 15th position, we set about chasing the pack down to try and limit the damage to our points. By this time, Chris Whiteman in his Honda Civic Type R had passed Birley and began to disappear. Over the remaining 15 laps we were able to finish in 3rd position and the objective of a podium finish was achieved in the first race. We finished just two tenths of a second behind Birley and another lap could’ve seen us get second, but it wasn’t meant to be. The top three cars (Whiteman and Birley – both in Honda’s and us in the Peugeot) fastest laps were just two tenths of a second apart meaning that the season has the promise of being tightly contested.

Race Two:

 

So, race two saw us starting in third position again – behind race one winner Chris Whiteman and Rod Birley. Going into Paddock Hill bend Birley opted for the outside of Whiteman and made it stick while we followed him through and into second position. Lap two saw the power of the Honda Civic of Whiteman pass on the main straight and then on the next lap he was able to pass Birley going round the outside of him going into Paddock Hill bend. The next lap saw Whiteman go out slightly wide and spin across the grass going through Surtees which promoted us up into a solid second and in pursuit of Birley. We were nose-to-tail, despite being well down on straight-line speed due to the Honda’s vast power difference, but able to make up the time going in-to and out of the corners. I was starting to think about making a move, only for the safety car to come out for a nasty looking crash for Bob Hossier in his Seat Leon at Paddock Hill Bend.

A long safety car period followed while the marshalls recovered the seat, which only left around four minutes of race time left when the safety car peeled off for the racing to resume. As we were trying to tuck ourselves under the Honda of Birley and up to race speed, I went from second to fifth gear, which allowed Birley to get a two second gap over the start finish line.

With only four laps remaining, we were going to find it tough to achieve our first win of the season. We did manage to close the gap to the Integra but again the sheer power of the straight-line speed ensured that he was able to keep ahead to win the race.

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So, all-in-all with no pre-season testing, it was an encouraging first race weekend of the 2016 season. Two outright podium finishes – a third in race one and second in race two has left us in third position (in class) in the championship, just eight points of the leader Rod Birley. See the BARC SE website for full championship standings.

We certainly have the pace over a full lap compared to the Honda’s who both have a lot more power (over 100bhp) compared to our Peugeot which looks good for the remainder of the season. With a few updates due later this season, we hope to bridge the gap and go for more outright wins.

We won’t be racing at the Brands Hatch GP meeting as it’s a non-championship event on 16th and 17th April and sees the Tin Tops combine grids with the quicker MN Saloons, which seems a little strange as it was a points scoring race last season, but we will be back at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on the 30th April when the championship resumes.

As always, a massive thanks to Tom Motorsport who prepares the Peugeot 205 Gti and our race sponsors Fusion Media, Complete Weed Control, Complete Ice Control and Etesia UK.

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Race Report: Bassett Reflects on Brands Triple Header

29/30 August Brands Hatch Race Report

As this BARC Cannons Tin Tops season progresses, I am increasingly reminded of the development curve with the Peugeot. Last season we were new to the series and had an uphill struggle against other more established drivers, so, in a way, it’s a very similar position to that we now face with cars and drivers getting quicker.

By going through the processes and developing the car; patience has been key. That’s the approach needed to build to a competitive car over the course of a season.

So after a pretty woeful start to the season, where the engine let go in the very first race, we’ve been building and developing the car even further with a view to getting closer to the front of the grid and with it – reliability.

10330420_959328884125517_744250770978451403_nThe really good thing is that I believe the Peugeot package is a quick one when it runs; sometimes too much too soon can create an atmosphere of expectation before it is really due.

Brands hatch is a great place for a race, not just because it’s my local track, but also because all of the history. So what did happen at the triple header? The weekend didn’t start well that’s for sure. Getting the car off the trailer, I broke three of my toes! Badly swollen, qualifying started dry for the first two laps, but because I had a new set of tyres and new braking system, we were scrubbing everything in. After the first two laps, rain started to fall, so it meant a time had to be set on dry tyres (like everyone else). The car felt well balanced, and as the session developed, I was able to push harder with each lap which saw us qualify in fifth position overall (and third in class). It actually turned out that I was second fastest in the rain which was pretty pleasing.

11949423_959332654125140_3774741593532400248_nAnd so we headed into the first race full of optimism. We finished the first lap in fifth looking for a way past the rapid Ford Fiesta of Cliff Pellin. Four laps were then spent behind the safety car following a spin into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend from Carey Lewis in his Honda Civic Type R. When racing resumed, I was still looking for a way past the Fiesta, which took two laps. By then the front running cars had built up a lead over me which took the rest of the race to close down, but with two laps to go I was on the rear bumper of Rod Birley’s Honda Integra. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to make a move, and so it finished – a decent showing with the car getting quicker throughout the race – finishing in fifth overall (third in class) and setting a personal best lap time.

Race two came and I was feeling confident of another strong showing after starting from fifth place on the grid following the fifth place finish in the first race. A good start meant that I was up into fourth, passing the Honda of Rod Birley on the outside of Druids.

Going into lap two and Birley’s Honda and the rapid turbo-charged Seat Leon of Bob Hosier used the straight line speed of their cars to pass on the start finish line, but going into Druids, Hosier out-braked himself which allowed both Birley and myself to pass once more. The next four laps were spent chasing the Honda and trying to find a way past – we were quicker under braking and through the corners, but couldn’t live with the straight line speed. After carrying more speed coming out of Paddock Hill Bend, it gave me a better run up to Druids, where I broke later and was able to go around the outside of the Honda at the hairpin which then gave me the inside line for Graham Hill bend. I then set about chasing down the Honda of Chris Whiteman which was the next car in my sights with Birley still closely following me.

11960149_959334297458309_8440676768491889122_nWe then started lapping the slower cars, which is where I got held up coming out of Graham Hill bend which allowed the Honda of Birley to come back past. I then spent the next three laps glued to the bumper of the Honda (at times it was close and paint was exchanged). I was continually faster through the corners, but unable to find a way past, until a fast run out of Paddock Hill and up to Druids, I went wide to feign going around the outside, but cut under to go through on the inside and push the Honda wide. I then set personal best lap times lap after lap for the remainder of the race to get close to Chris Whiteman but time ran out. The chequered flag came out too early – but by far our best race to date in the Peugeot finishing third overall, second in class and fastest lap time of the class.

And so we headed into the third race of the weekend. The grid was partially reversed (just the top eight), which meant that I started sixth, but after the second race, I was optimistic of another strong points scoring race. Going into the Paddock Hill bend for the first time, I went round the outside and into second behind the Seat Leon of Bob Hosier. Tom Bridger (race two winner) in his turbo charged Rover Tomcat passed me along the straight and then set off in pursuit of the Seat. Going into Paddock Hill on the third lap, Hosier ran wide and into the gravel, which allowed me into second overall and first in class. The next lap I allowed Barnaby Davies in his Turbo charged Toyota Starlet to pass along the straight (there was no point in slowing us both down when we race in different classes) to chase Bridger for class win in T1 for the turbo cars. This allowed me to settle down and concentrate on maintaining the gap to forth – which by the end of the race was nearly ten seconds. And so it ended with a first win in class and third overall.

Not as exciting as the first two races, but I’ll take a boring race on my own and a class win any day!

Once again, a massive thanks to mechanic Tom Burgess and also my sponsors Complete Weed Control, Complete Ice Control and Fusion Media.

The next stop is Brands Hatch, but this time on the Grand Prix circuit on 12/13 September.

Race Report: Bassett Reflects on Brands Hatch Double

Well, what a week that was! After a last minute test session at Brands Hatch just two days before our comeback race, I am feeling pretty rung out, but, unlike last year, I have reason to smile.

Following the test on Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on the Thursday before Saturday’s action, the Peugeot needed some last minute adjustments – a broken clutch cable and a crack in the oil sump which needed to be welded up. Come Saturday’s qualifying session, the new engine still wasn’t fully run in but to end up qualifying 8th out of 27 cars (3rd in class) was pretty pleasing as it felt as though I wasn’t really pushing that hard – we still need more time in the car to set it up properly.

Chris Bassett Peugeot 205 GTi Brands HatchSo, with spirits lifted and finally having some confidence in the car and engine; we were optimistic for a good points-scoring weekend. I made a good start going into Paddock Hill Bend and up to Druids passing three cars and up into 5th before I lost my brakes and pulled over to the side and slowly making my way back to the pits. Team mechanic Tom Burgess had a quick look at the car, but couldn’t find anything wrong so we headed back out onto the circuit. By the time I reached the same corner (Druids) the brakes had gone again; so I slowly made my way back to the pits where it turned out to be a broken brake master cylinder and the end of the race.

The time between races allowed us to fit a new brake master cylinder, but we knew we were in for a tough second race as we would be starting 25th on the grid because of the non-finish in race one. It seems to be a regular occurrence starting from the back of the grid, but it certainly makes it an interesting and entertaining race trying to make our way through the field!Chris Bassett Peugeot 205 GTi Brands Hatch

And so it began – trying to make our way through the field and to the finish for the first time this season. By the end of the first lap, I had overtaken six cars. The next lap another two and set off in pursuit of Dominic Ryan and his Ford Fiesta. It was another lap before I was able to close up to the rear bumper of the Fiesta and able to pass Dominc going along Cooper Straight and into Surtees.

We seemed to be slightly down on power (more on that later). I spent the next four laps chasing the battle of Andy Baker (Peugeot 205) and Daniel Adams (Proton Satria). With us now starting to lap back markers, Daniel made a mistake going into Surtees, which slowed him down coming out of Clark and along Brabham Straight. I made my move down the inside under braking going into Paddock Hill Bend and into 7th place overall / 3rd in class behind Baker. The car became slower still along the straights but we began the chase to the other Peugeot 205.Chris Bassett Peugeot 205 GTi Brands Hatch

Another lap, but this time going into Surtees the rear seemed ‘loose’ and the off-side wheel seemed to be loose. We limped back to the pits where we found out the problem behind our lack of speed – a broken rear brake caliper, possibly caused by the earlier broken brake master cylinder. The heat caused by the brake caliper being stuck on had caused the spigot ring inside the off-side rear wheel to melt and the wheel nuts to become loose. After some quick work by team mechanic Tom, we went back out on circuit and limped to a finish – we were determined to get our first points of the season, but effectively our race was over from the moment I pulled into the pits.Chris Bassett Peugeot 205 GTi Brands Hatch Double Header

And so we ended the race weekend with our first points of the season and plenty of optimism going into the next round – a triple header at Brands Hatch on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August – again at Brands Hatch.

 

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Chris Bassett